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Mississippi State’s Jeffery Simmons quietly had high-level freshman season

Sep 10, 2016; Starkville, MS, USA;  Mississippi State Bulldogs defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons (98) forces a fumble as he hits South Carolina Gamecocks running back A.J. Turner (25) during the second quarter of the game at Davis Wade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Bush/USA TODAY Sports

As National Signing Day approaches, Jeffrey Simmons’ life has come full circle in almost a year.

A year ago, the five-star defensive end from Macon, Miss., signed with Mississippi State over the likes of Alabama, Ole Miss and many others.

Simmons was regarded as a national top-20 prospect and being counted on to be an impact player from day one for Mississippi State.

Then, in the spring of 2016, Simmons found himself in the center of a national story as he was recorded via cell phone punching a woman. The incident led to his arrest and charges.

RELATED: Mississippi State’s Jeffery Simmons found guilty of simple assault

Coming on the heels of other domestic violence incidents in the NFL and college football, attention turned quickly to how coach Dan Mullen and then-athletic director Scott Stricklin would handle the situation.

Mullen and Mississippi State let Simmons enroll “under conditions,” including a suspension for the 2016 season opener.

In today’s media climate, stories fade away as others take their place. For the most part, that happened with Simmons once he enrolled.

After sitting out the opener, Simmons did make an immediate impact for the Bulldogs. Simmons moved to tackle from his high school position of end and played well; he started three games and played in all but the opener. He finished with 40 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, four quarterback hurries and two forced fumbles. Simmons was at the top of almost every stat category for freshmen defensive linemen in the SEC and was named to the SEC All-Freshman team. Simmons also had a 4.0 GPA in the fall semester.

He will be one of the leaders of the Mississippi State defense next season and a key contributor along its front line.

If his first season is any indication, Simmons is making the most of his second chance. If Simmons stays on this track, it seems probable that — as with many five-star recruits — he will spend three years in college before moving on to the NFL.

RELATED: Decision on Jeffery Simmons was the wrong one

(You can follow Jake Wimberly on Twitter @jakewim)

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